Sydney | Published on 31st March 2022 at 8:33

The Qantas Group today outlined the specific steps it is taking to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, including an interim target to reduce carbon emissions by 25 per cent by 2030.

The national carrier today released its Qantas Group Climate Action Plan, making sustainability a key pillar of decision making across all areas of the business.

As part of the plan, Qantas announced key targets for fuel efficiency and the uptake of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which will be critical for reaching net zero emissions, as well as reducing waste and continuing to grow the Group’s industry-leading carbon offsetting program.

These targets for reducing its environmental footprint include:

  • Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) 10 per cent use of SAF in the Group’s fuel mix by 2030, and approximately 60 per cent by 2050.
  • Waste reduction – Zero single-use plastics by 2027 and zero general waste (excluding quarantine waste) to landfill by 2030.
  • Fuel efficiency – Increase fuel efficiency by an average of 1.5 per cent per year to 2030. Achieved through updating our aircraft fleet and using more efficient flight planning, while continuing research into next generation technologies, including hydrogen and battery power.
  • Offsets – continue to build our offsetting program particularly into key Australian projects.

Qantas also announced today it is signing a Memorandum of Understanding with ANZ and INPEX for a major integrated reforestation and carbon farming project in Western Australia’s wheatbelt region, an area the size of Belgium in the south west of the state (see separate release).

The project would see marginal farming land replanted with sustainable, drought-resistant native plant species, which aims to improve the environment and generate Australian carbon credits to help offset the three companies’ future carbon footprints. Longer term, it would also create a potential source for sustainable aviation fuel production from cut back mallee trees.

Interim emissions target:

The Qantas Group was one of the first airlines to commit to net zero emissions by 2050. Today’s announcement of an interim target of 25 per cent reduction by 2030 (based on 2019 levels) is designed to accelerate that progress and provide a short-term focus for the Group.

This includes integrating climate change considerations into the Group’s financial framework and linking performance against targets to executive remuneration from FY23 onwards, including considering a cost of carbon in financial decisions.

Building a biofuels industry:

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is critical to the decarbonisation of the industry. Qantas is today setting a target of 10 per cent SAF in fuel uptake by 2030, and approximately 60 per cent by 2050.

Qantas has already started flying with SAF sourced from overseas, with 15 per cent of fuel used out of London comprised of SAF since the beginning of 2022. A second major supply deal has been signed for almost 20 million litres a year of blended SAF out of Californian airports from 2025, with options to increase amounts as production increases. Negotiation on other offshore supply agreements are underway.

SAF is produced from certified bio feedstock, including used cooking oil, sugar cane, forestry residues, animal tallow and other waste products. It is blended with normal jet fuel and produces up to 80 per cent less emissions on a life cycle basis when compared with traditional jet kerosene.

The Qantas Group has committed an initial $50 million towards establishment of an Australia-based SAF industry, and is calling on all levels of government to also lend support to ensure Australia manufactures the biofuel like the UK, US and Europe already are.

Waste reduction:

Qantas is today committing to a target of zero single use plastics before 2027, which means every Qantas or Jetstar flight will use products in compostable or recyclable packaging. A small number of health and safety items onboard will remain plastic, but we are committed to exploring alternatives.

By 2030, Qantas is targeting to have all of its Australian-based operations completely free of ‘general waste’, including flights, lounges and office buildings. This means any waste generated by Qantas operations is planned to be diverted through recycling or organic waste programs or converted into energy.

Before the pandemic, Qantas committed to reducing 75 per cent of onshore waste to landfill by 2021, as well as the removal of a total of 100 million single use plastic items. Due to COVID some of these initiatives were temporarily paused, and we now expect to reach this target by 2023.

Fleet renewal:

In December, Qantas selected Airbus’s A320neo and A220 families as the preferred aircraft for Qantas’s long-term fleet renewal program, which should deliver up to 20 per cent fuel savings compared to the Boeing 717s and 737s it currently operates. A firm order is expected to be finalised by mid-2022. Jetstar will take delivery of the first of 18 A321LRs in July 2022.

The fleet renewal program has already seen Qantas’s 747s fleet retired early and replaced by the Boeing 787s, which use 20 per cent less fuel than aircraft of similar size.

Carbon offsetting:

The Qantas Fly Carbon Neutral carbon offset program has one of the highest participation rates of any airline in the world.

Offsetting is an important tool towards reaching net zero targets, especially in the short to medium term until new low emission technology becomes available. Qantas is committed to growing its offsetting program and investing in Indigenous and Australian projects wherever possible.

Qantas recently launched its Green Tier, which has seen more than 90,000 frequent flyers take steps towards reducing their environmental footprint.

CEO comments:

“Aviation is a crucial industry, especially in a country the size of Australia. Having a clear plan to decarbonise Qantas and Jetstar so we can keep delivering these services in the decades ahead is absolutely key to our future,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said.

“We’ve had a zero net emissions goal for several years, so today’s interim targets are about accelerating our progress and cutting emissions as quickly as technology allows.

“Hydrogen or electric powered aircraft are several decades away, particularly for the length of most flights, so our plan is focused on the technology that is within reach today.

“We’re looking at new aircraft that burn approximately 15 to 20 per cent less fuel and we’re already using sustainable aviation fuel for our London flights that can cut emissions by up to 80 per cent.

“One benefit of setting these targets now is sending a clear signal that we’re in the market for large volumes of sustainable aviation fuel, for carbon offset projects and for products that can be recycled. That will hopefully encourage more investment and build more momentum for the industry as a whole.

“Responding to climate change is a big challenge, but we will get there. Partnerships with industry and all levels of government are going to be key to create the supply chains we need, and customers will have a role to play as well in supporting more sustainable options,” added Mr Joyce.

Images and vision can be found here.